A series of fascinating new learning resources are enabling teachers in the UK to encourage the next generation of climate pioneers.

The freely available lesson plans and activities – which add to ESA’s portfolio of space-powered climate learning materials – were highlighted at the Climate Change Teacher Conference, a live-streamed online summit for British primary and secondary school educators that took place this week.

Other climate learning activities include the ESA Climate Detectives school project. Implemented with the UK Space Agency and the UK space education office (ESERO-UK), the project challenges pupils to investigate climate issues and propose ways that they could be monitored or mitigated.

These resources are contributing to a national push to enrich climate education as the UK prepares for COP26, key United Nation climate change talks that will be hosted in Glasgow this November.

There is an urgent need to boost young people’s engagement in combating the climate crisis – in the decades to come, they will be tasked with continuing to track the rapidly evolving environment and reducing planet-warming emissions.

ESA's ice mission
ESA’s ice mission

Among the speakers at the event was British climate scientist Andrew Shepherd, who is part of ESA’s Climate Change Initiative for transforming space data into climate observations.

Shepherd outlined how Earth observing satellites are enabling scientists to monitor how melting ice sheets are impacting the rising sea level as the world continues to warm up – and how ESA is using its satellite observations of the climate to create a wide variety of educational materials.

Developed under ESA’s Climate Change Initiative in coordination with the ESA Education Office, they consist of teacher guides and student worksheets that support the teaching of several science, technology, engineering and maths topics.

Climate from Space: Sea surface
Climate from Space: Sea surface

The activities integrate ESA’s Climate from Space web app, an online tool that enables people to visualise over 40 years of satellite observations using interactive 3D globes and maps, as well as multimedia ‘climate stories’ designed to improve understanding of the changing environment.

Using the app, students can explore the same information used by scientists and governments to understand and anticipate climate change.

Lessons cover the major aspects of the climate system – including the rapid changes taking place across the Arctic, the causes and impacts of the rising sea level, how the evolving environment is affecting biodiversity, and much more.

ESA’s classroom materials are part of the Climate Change Educational Partnership, a UK initiative that brings together people working in education, research, science, technology, engineering and maths to develop climate education resources that are based on scientific evidence.

Initiated by educational body UK Stem, the partnership involves several other organisations that are committed to tackling climate change, including the Met Office, the Royal Society, Research Councils UK, the Grantham Institute and the UK Space Agency.

Six ESA resource packs are currently available, and this set to be expanded to include four more that will be launched in time for COP26. The materials will also be translated into German, French, Spanish and Dutch.

  • ESA also photos